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And here we are, that time of year in Michigan where snow-fall surrounds us in reflections of white and a weird muffled presence exists. The time of year that I fall into kinda a “Kate depression” perhaps unrecognizable to most who know my general giggly and uplifting demeanor, but definitely marked by intense levels of spaciness, general dissociation, irritability with strangers and serious cravings for junk and comfort food. Mine is not a depression that keeps me in bed or makes me sob uncontrollably, my outlook remains positive and full of wonder like always, but there are a few times a year that the little bugger, those in the west call depression, creeps into my psyche. Luckily I’m in-tune and in-my-head enough (perhaps my mentor would say too much) to recognize these patterns.
A few things you should know about me:
Six years ago, on Dec 5th, my mom died. I’d say it was “unexpected” as I was in serious denial and I was distracting myself with a myriad of things (including yoga) to keep me from thinking about this reality. I’d also say it was unexpected as my mom completely failed to disclose how dying she actually was in the last months, weeks, and DAYS leading to her death. She had chances, I outright asked about it, she attempted to tell me on a few occasions, but backed out of it-and in my denial state, I let her. I have great memories of my mom-everybody does. She was individualistic with funky style, quite a bit of undirected Woo Woo, and a lot of spirit. She was genuinely kind and thoughtful of all people and shined a light on this world than most of us can hardly fathom. Let’s just say everybody loved her and we had a great relationship.
I’m an intensely personal being. I keep things to myself and rarely put my emotions out there. I have outlets (healthy and not), and as I said, I’m in-my-head- a lot. I like to say I have things mostly worked out with myself, but lack of expression of feelings has caused some issues for me on the Sacral-Chakra level (how about that time I had to have emergency surgery to remove an ovary in torsion…?). Hopefully there’s plenty of time in the future to blog the interesting details of the Yogic-healing journey I’ve encountered, but suffice it to say, the fact that I’m publicly writing about my mom during such a vulnerable time is a testament to the power that whole-yoga can have on the whole-being.
Music is seriously important to me. Yea, I know, we all (mostly all) love music, and listen to music, and you may think you’re really into music, but I’m seriously freaking into music. Rather than nursery rhymes, my folks raised me on Zeppelin, Floyd, Jethro Tull, Hendrix, and Yes. Of course my tastes expanded and I now have an extensive library of mostly blues and rock inspired jams, but I also really dig EDM, New Grass, Hip Hop, and Ween (a band for which I’d hand-make personalized crafts & mail directly to their homes in New Hope, PA. Sounds like somewhat typical tween or quirky teen stuff, right? (Or the workings of a lunatic…?) While always a quirky teen at heart, I was engaging in these behaviors as I neared age 30…). Like I said, I’m staunchly in favor of the musical-arts. The connection between my mom and me in regards to music is undoubtable. Essentially the only thing mom-related that will cause an unexpected burst into tears is music. Certain songs (not sappy ones that you’d expect) but mostly songs with some weird story, fact, or trivia type background that my mom shared with me (& there were a lot of them). We’re talking Creedence songs, “Working for the MCA” by L. Skinnard (what! that’s bonkers, right?), anything off of Led Zeppelin II, etc.
I’m under a bit of pressure with opening the new yoga space, Grassroots Studio, and I wanted to think about how I’m going to dedicate the studio to the light of my mom as I’ve quite purposefully chosen a Dec. 5th Grand Opening. I felt compelled to do a “mom-thing” usually this is an excuse to buy a decadent slice of cake or take a walk around Monroe Circle, where, from a very young age, she’d bring me to Blues on the Mall or other music and/or art events (of course).
I decided to pull out the old record collection-the one passed to me by my mom. The one full of Queen, rare Hendrix, tons of Zeppelin, Doors, Allman Brother’s Band, old Aerosmith, VanH, Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, an unfortunate amount of Foreigner and Journey (their album artwork is cool, though)…you get the idea. I was tuning-in with my closest ancestor and purposefully bringing a passed love-one to my process. It’s hard. My breathing changes but (thanks to yoga) it changes to that 1:2 inhale:exhale ratio, brining me calm and peace, but I know I’m affected by the process by the fact that I instinctually work my breath to serve me (practical pranayama, I call it). As I mentioned, it’s hard to be in this space. I started looking at the albums like an oracle deck. Like individual cards that represented different themes and ideas and intentions. Different pieces of trivia, direct attachments to my mom, overt messages like The Blue Oyster Cult album cover, subtle messages with other album titles or songs, mostly beautiful or idealistic imagery….a rich, 42-card ‘deck’ GIFTED to me by my mom with significant messages and meanings that we’ve been writing together for my lifetime. So I keep rummaging through the records and lamenting my mom’s love of Foreigner and REO Speedwagon, and it’s hard and it sucks-confronting these things (no, not her interest in these particularly dorky bands, but confronting all the things I feel when I think of my mom and music). And then I hear a little voice say “don’t get in a funk, get funky” Intuition, guidance, mom-voice, maybe just my own way of keeping things OK…and then I got …funky(er). I made my first mom-altar. I wish I could say that I drew a Vinyl Oracle card, randomly, but fact is I purposefully chose the album that most connects me with my mom, I did randomly draw my Angel Dreams oracle card-Orange/Svadhisthana (of course!). I got out her old guitar (not far out of reach as I occasionally use it to make weird sounds on the ceiling to shoo away the family of raccoons living the attic (total lunatic, I say), some colored-pencil art produced by mom, candles, crystals, the whole works. And of course I listened to Led Zeppelin II . Things came to me, personal things (isn’t it enough I’m sharing my mom-altar?), profound things, things to write down and things to think about. I made a personal 4-card spread to use during those few times a year when confronting my “mommy-issues.” I’m so excited to experience the albums and artwork the spread lays out for me in the future. And then the album ended. It was not set to replay, the turntable continued to spin with an audible and cracky beat, reminiscent of a heartbeat. I sat there in profoundly personal silence and calmly waited-longer than you’d expect, perhaps an effort to this time experience the end, the awful waiting, facing the expected & inevitable and being in full control when I stood up, lifted the needle from the record, and concluded my session.
“a rich, 42-card deck, gifted to me by my mom”
Kate’s first “Oracle Deck”
Creating the altar did what you’d expect. It showcased both meaningful and cool things that best represent my mom, it allowed me to set intentions with the crystals, it reminded me to care for the precious sacral chakra, the candles looked cool.…. Unexpectedly, it put me in control of a delicate and vulnerable situation. I felt comfortable with my feelings, protected in the ritual of choosing my altar items, reflecting on the fond memories they hold, and honoring my mom the best way I know how…Looking through old, dusty albums while listening to a poorly maintained Led Zeppelin record.